I have been thinking a lot lately about the above question. Is discipleship more than than just a Bible study or truth search? What are the essential ingredients? How long does it last? Are there seasons of discipleship?
How can we do discipleship in our modern culture of self reliance and self-focused desires? What about a church with hundreds or thousands of members? Can it really do one-on-one discipleship or small groups as Jesus did? Can we really do discipleship in an age where nobody wants to be held accountable and leaders are affraid to say tough words that might cause people to leave and not come back?
Our society focuses more on knowledge and less on the process. We are focused on the ends not the means. We measure success by whether or not something works. Jesus’ only measuring stick was God’s will.
I don’t know if we have the patience today for old fashioned discipleship. We may not be willing to trust or submit to those we are called to follow. Our society rewards rebels and those who do their own thing. Those values are not a high priority for a disciple of Jesus.
Today, we want a discipleship program. We need easy steps and bullet lists so that everything can be quantified and summarized. I think this misses a key ingredient to effective transformation – time. Jesus took time to focus on twelve men. I believe that many leaders in the modern church are not willing to walk through life with people. They already have full plates doing ministry that may not really be discipleship.
Deep, personal discipleship is messy. It is kind of like open-heart surgery. I think we want something less invasive with fewer limitations. This all points to one of the big problems with the Christian discussion today. We focus more on what we want and not God’s desire. We think too much and listen too little. Discipleship should be all about Jesus not any one person or group. Discipleship reveals God to us so that we can strive in His power to live as Jesus did. Humanism has subtly changed the focus of discipleship from Christ to our efforts and achievements.
I think the first key of discipleship is to remember who we are following. And His name is Jesus.